It’s Saturday 17th Feb 2018 and I’m mentally preparing myself to run in my first running event. My race bib is already pinned to my singlet and my socks are in my shoes by the door, so I don’t forget them. I’m pretty nervous but I keep repeating my goals in my mind: 1. Get to the start line. 2. Run, skip, walk or crawl just get to the finish line. 6.5kms. I can do this.
Wide awake at 7am, shovel down some muesli and yoghurt, have a decent glass of water and triple check I’ve got everything. Im dressed. Check. Shoes on. Check. Backpack with essentials. Check. I hope there’s a bag check…check the website…phew!
Arriving at Frank Kitts Park there are a lot of focused runners. There’s music blaring but these guys are in their zone. I check in my bag so I don’t have to carry it around the course, then stand by a tree and do a few stretches to blend in while I wait for my friends. Then I see it. Something that makes my heart jump for joy and all my race anxiety slip away.
A guy in an inflatable t-rex suit.
Maybe this isn’t such a hard core running event? Sure, there are some experienced runners here but the more I look around, the more I see what they mean by “fun run”. Groups of people in tutus, balloons everywhere and kids with scooters. I can totally do this!
I spot a few friends and we head over to watch the Kapa Haka and do the warm up with Les Mills, arming ourselves with some purple balloons on the way. I’m excited about this now, my energy is high and there are smiles all round.
It’s 9.14am and we’re lined up on the start line ready to go. The hype man on the cherry picker has got the crowd pumping as we count down to the start gun. 5…4…3…2…1! We’re off! Walking with crowd until it spreads out enough to kick into a light jog and eventually the pace I’d trained for.
The run was made so easy by the groups on every corner with water guns or hoses, the cheer squads and the drumming teams. I forgot about how hard I was breathing or the tiredness in my legs and I just kept going. Feeding off the energy of everyone around me.
After 45mins and 32 seconds I crossed the finish line at Kilbirnie Park, grinning from ear to ear. Someone handed me a banana and a small bottle of Pump water and I wandered into the finishers festival in search of the bag pick up and anyone I knew. The park was pumping! The music from a dance display on stage had some of the crowd on their feet, hungry participants at the food trucks lined up behind them and kids with ice blocks were playing tag on the grass (how they still had the energy to run I’ll never know!). After reuniting with my mates we sat on the grass by the stage for a while to watch the prize giving and the live band and let our legs rest. It wasn’t even 10.30am yet, there was plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere!
Eventually we went to proudly claim our finishers medal that we had bought when we registered, then headed over to the bus line to grab a free shuttle back into the city. I’ll definitely be running again next year! I might even do the 10km. Maybe in a t-rex suit.